EBT card replacement with chip/tap cards

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has provided information about the replacement of current magnetic stripe EBT cards with chip/tap cards.  The new cards will be for CalWORKs, CalFresh, General Assistance, Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA), Trafficking and Crime Victims Assistance Program (TCVAP), Entrant Cash Assistance (ECA), Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants (CAPI), and Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).  County equipment will be replaced in May, 2024.  New cardstock will be delivered to counties in May, 2024

In Summer, 2024, new chip/tap cards will be mailed to anyone with an active case, that is anyone who has accessed benefits in the last nine months.  The new cards will be mailed in three phases.  The first phase will be combined CalWORKs and CalFresh cases, GA, RCA, TCVAP, CAPI and LIHEAP.  The second phase will be cash-only benefits cases.  The third phase will be CalFresh only cases.

The existing PIN will carry-over to the new chip/tap card.  Cardholders will need to enter the PIN for each transaction with the chip/tap card.

SunBucks and Women, Infants and Children benefits will not be moved to the new chip/tap cards.

Counties should tell cardholders to use their replacement cards as soon as they receive them.  A successful transaction with the new card will activate it.  Cardholders can also activate their new card using the EBT Edge application, or by contacting the EBT customer service center.  Cardholders will have approximately 45 days after they receive their new card before their old magnetic stripe card will be unusable.

CDSS will monitor activation data and do direct outreach to cardholders who receive their new card but do not activate it.

Counties should refer questions to the EBT customer service center.

Any remaining magnetic stripe cards will be deactivated approximately 60 days after mass replacement is completed.  Cardholders who do not receive a new card can ask for their chip/tap card through the EBT Customer Service or the county.

Some retailers may not have equipment to accept chip/tap cards.  In most of those cases, the EBT card will need fall back to a magnetic stripe or manual key-in transaction.

Cardholders who are unhoused can have their replacement cards mailed to the county welfare department.  County welfare departments will get a list of cardholders who use the county welfare department mailing address for triage.  (ACWDL, June 24, 2024.)

New policy for in person PIN changes on EBT cards

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has a new policy about in person requests for changes to the PIN number on Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards. This policy change is because of an increase in in person fraudulent requests to change PIN numbers.

In person PIN changes at a county outside of cardholders residence will no longer be allowed.  Counties must tell people that they can change their PIN number by calling the Automated Response Unit number on the back of the card, or by using the ebtEDGE app or online portal.

If there is a pending intercounty transfer, the county must issue a new card.  If benefits remain on the old card from the previous county, the new county must change the PIN number.

For in person PIN change requests in the county of benefit issuance, counties must verify the identity of the person asking to change the PIN.  The identity information and the physical EBT card must match the case information in CalSAWS before the PIN is changed.  The county must also check the PIN change receipt to make sure the last four digits of the card number on the receipt match the physical card number.

Only the cardholder can change the PIN on their own EBT card.

To verify identity, the county must first use a photo ID.  If the individual does not present a photo ID, the county must verify two points of personal identifying information from the case:  name of any other persons on the case and their relationship on the case, date of birth, last four digits of Social Security Number, or address on the case.  (ACL 24-25, April 10, 2024.)

COVID-19 Interim Assistance Reimbursement agreements

Counties can be reimbursed for General Assistance/General Relief paid to claimants from retroactive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.  One condition of this reimbursement is the claimant signing an agreement for interim assistance reimbursement called the SSP 14.

The Social Security Administration has agreed to allow telephone attestations instead of wet signatures on the SSP 14 form for the duration of the COVID-19 state of emergency.  (ACL 20-64, June 4, 2020.)